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We have completely moved to a remote and hyper-connected society, in which consumers expect services to be digital, instantaneous and frictionless. Under the new rules of this “today’s economy”, customers’ tolerance for latency is extremely low. Any page load that takes longer than usual may result in lost business.

When approaching applications in a world where milliseconds matter, data – specifically, the effective management of that data – is the cornerstone of success. Over the decades, digital transformation efforts have left us with several different solutions for managing data, including a range of different data models and technologies. Today, in order to stay afloat, organizations must prioritize data management to ensure 24/7 data responsiveness without a hitch.

How consumer expectations have changed the way we manage data

High-value business goals are the driving force behind changes in data infrastructure and responsiveness. While IT-related service level issues, such as security and availability, are certainly factors in a data management scenario, they rarely trigger transformation efforts. Without a doubt, the most important advances in data management for an organization are seen in projects that have a positive impact on customer and employee relations.

From a data management perspective, being “customer-centric” is about delivering lower latency, faster application response times, and near real-time data access. Digital transformation is no longer a “nice to have”. The competitive pressure to continually deliver needed functionality faster, better, and cheaper hasn’t changed — in fact, it’s been the only consistent KPI goal for IT departments for decades. And the pandemic has exposed how weak the digital backbone is for many businesses.

We’ve mostly acclimated to a remote world: the days of customers having to do something in person without a digital option are numbered.

The Great Decoupling: Freeing Data from Siled Record Systems

As companies expanded their digital services to stay competitive and relevant in today’s “now economy”, IT infrastructure has transformed into a “spaghetti mix” of applications, APIs and systems of record (SoR), all tangled with constraints and dependencies. Adding any new service to this mix requires an ever-growing patchwork of contingencies and time-consuming integration efforts, preventing companies from quickly responding to changing market needs with new digital services. This is a real brake on innovation and a challenge that companies must overcome to truly realize their vision of digital transformation.

One approach to unraveling this messy mix and simplifying the process of scaling digital offerings is to decouple applications from their respective SoR. Removing this barrier simplifies the process of integrating new digital services into existing IT architecture, dramatically shortening new service launch cycles. This, in turn, allows businesses to quickly introduce new real-time mobile services to their customers, meeting and even exceeding their expectations.

Businesses are sitting on an untapped goldmine of siled data. Whether it’s customer data or internal operational data, most of it is stored in disparate databases or SoRs, placed on-premises or in the cloud. Each application is constantly fed data that performs its own specific functionality. As a result, executives don’t have a unified, holistic view of all their data. In a sense, data is locked within the confines of the applications designed to consume it, even though it can be extremely valuable to other systems in the enterprise IT infrastructure.

By decoupling applications from the SoR and integrating a digital integration hub, companies can free their own data from siled databases and gain a unified 360-degree view of their customer, operational and business data. It’s the very basis for delivering an omnichannel experience and creating multiple, fully personalized customer touchpoints.

Data responsiveness: preparing for the next wave of data requests

The appetite for new digital services is expected to increase with the introduction of new protocols such as 5G. This growing demand will increase data traffic as well as customer expectations for application performance. Changing customer demand will not be limited to mobile, as a wave of new IoT devices and sensors will be introduced to the commercial market both as standalone gadgets and embedded in other devices. This, in turn, will add to the complexity of managing all that data and prevent service outages.

As businesses look to the future and plan for this expected increase in digital demand and the need for data responsiveness, they need to ask themselves some tough questions. Is their current IT architecture ready to support massive scaling of digital services? Are they effectively using their development and data architect teams to create innovative new services that deliver real value to customers and the business? Or are they spending too much time on repetitive data integration tasks? Finally, are they really leveraging all the data their organization has collected over the years, or is it just stored in a siled database?

Adi Paz is the CEO of GigaSpaces.

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